A New Private-Island Resort in Indonesia
A new resort on a private island afloat in Indonesia’s Flores Sea, with its breezy blue-and-white vibe imported straight from the Mediterranean, is part Komodo, part Crete, and all yours to savor. STORY AND PHOTOS BY IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER
Published on Oct 5, 2015
WHETHER YOU WANT TO CREDIT CARPE DIEM, sweet serendipity or the power of Poseidon, a Crete tapestry of blue and white has floated ashore in the Flores Sea. The blue you see has always been here, but the white is a new addition, courtesy of Crete-native Yannis Vlatakis. Vlatakis was kicking around the idea of retirement last year when he stumbled upon Seraya Kecil (Little Seraya), one of hundreds of volcanic islets orbiting Komodo Island. Within half an hour, he had tracked down a landowner and bought a strip of beachfront. “The second I saw this place, I fell in love with it,” Vlatakis says. “It reminded me of the Greek Islands before they were developed.”
He then got to work pouring his 50 years of experience in hotel construction into creating a stylish, Greek-whitewashed barefoot resort that harmoniously blends high-end amenities with the island’s knockout natural beauty and local life. The most ingenious example is the 14-meter-long bar shaped like the bagan-style fishing boats of Indonesia that subdivides the dining room from the kitchen. It’s a cross section of an actual vessel that was used to ferry construction materials from Flores to Little Seraya Island, day in day out, for eight consecutive months until its hull gave way and it sank on the beach. Vlatakis describes its retooling as an act of gratitude and honor: “That little boat broke to build this place—I couldn’t just throw it away.”
You feel that same tenderness across Seraya Hotel, open since June, 2015. Each of the 23 beachfront bungalows has a spacious wooden deck and Balinese style bathroom with outdoor showers and pebble flooring. Inside they are pictures of tranquility, and elegantly furnished with four- posted beds. There’s also a two-bedroom villa with a plunge pool and wraparound wooden deck offering 270-degree views of Little Seraya’s fringing reef, an ever-changing canvas of shimmering blues edged by shiny white sandbanks and patches of sea grass. The coral is even more vivid up close—a Technicolor array of staghorn, elkhorn and brain corals as spectacular as a bursting supernova, heaving with marine life: royal angelfish the size of dinner plates, eagle rays and bizarre octagonal-finned cousins of the lionfish that resemble subaqueous spiders.
Back on dry land, the resort’s alfresco restaurant and lounge embody Greek Islands chic. From the wooden deck surrounding the swimming pool, to the beanbags, wicker tables and chairs, and rustic chandeliers fashioned from driftwood, everything here is whitewashed and highlighted with splashes of cyan. The daily set menu, likewise, is Mediterranean to the core. Conceived by chef George Haryanto, a Flores native who cut his teeth at Sasa’ Italian restaurant in Bali, the daily set menu begins with a fresh Greek salad or calamari soup with flatbread. It’s followed by hearty mains like chicken stuffed with feta, mushrooms and eggplant; barbecued grouper with garlic and zucchini Parmesan bake; or simple penne marinara. Dishes are made for the most part from organic produce sourced from markets in Flores and the freshest of seafood Haryanto buys every morning from passing fishing boats. Let them conjure Poseidon to prep your dinner while you channel Pasithea, the Greek goddess of relaxation, and serenely sip your ouzo-coffee aperitif.
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